As a person with an auditory sensory preference, I’ve carried ear plugs with me for years, wearing them on airline flights, at concerts and rodeos, and you name it. The noise-cancelling music plugs I use, thanks to recommendations by a good friend, still allow me to “hear” but take the sound level down about 20 decibels. Research has validated my choice. Long-term exposure to noise is believed to raises the levels of stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and noradrenaline in the body. And, high levels of stress hormones have been linked to high blood pressure, heart failure, strokes, and immune problems. A study published in the European Heart Journal reported that males exposed to prolonged noise had a 50% higher risk of heart attack; women almost 300% higher risk. Your choices can make a difference. Use ear plugs whenever possible in noisy situations. Keep the volume only as loud as you need it to hear clearly on cellphones and headphones. Select a less noisy restaurant or a walk in the park over one near a busy street. Spent a few minutes every day in silence, relaxing, and focusing on your breathing. Take care of your ears—and, by extension, your brain and your heart.